There’s no question about it; our way of life has to change for humanity to survive on this planet. This is the challenge that the permaculture movement seeks to address, with practical solutions that include urban food gardening and sustainable farming. At the heart of this self-organizing global movement is a desire to align the success of humanity with the rhythm of the natural world.

Creating gardens that are sustainable and environmentally friendly is quite simple and can be done with naturally available materials. Hügelkultur, a type of raised bed made popular by Austrian Farmer Sep Holzer, is one such system. The idea is to simulate a forest floor, loaded with organic material, that retains moisture even in the driest summer months.

The structure is fairly straightforward. You start by layering wood different sizes, with the thickest pieces at the bottom, followed by a mixture of topsoil, manure, leaves and compost. Beds can be sunken or raised.

It can take up to three years to realise the full potential of a hügelkultur bed, while the organic material decomposes and releases the nitrogen that plants need to thrive.

If you are looking for a more carefree way to enjoy your garden, need a way to recycle green waste on your plot, create a garden in rocky or sandy soil or just want to belong to the cool club, you should definitely try out hügelkultur.